For weeks, the two candidates in the March primary for the 8th Congressional District have presented themselves as "the" person to beat Congressman Joe Walsh in November.
Raja Krishnamoorthi and Tammy Duckworth frequently criticize the McHenry Republican's outspoken practices at town halls and his statements on social issues, including women's contraception.
So, in a rare move, Walsh has turned the tables on his potential opponents, asking both in an email blast last week whether they back President Barack Obama's Fiscal Year 2013 budget -- one which Republicans criticize because it is projected to add $1.3 trillion to the deficit as well as increase government spending.
"Over the past few months, instead of discussing where they stand on the issues that matter to the people of the 8th District, my two potential opponents have criticized every vote I've made and every word I've said," Walsh wrote.
He called the president's $3.8 trillion budget a "reckless spending spree that will never receive my support."
Krishnamoorthi, a Hoffman Estates laboratory executive, responded to Walsh's challenge with an email blast of his own, noting he supports the president's budget. He said it "enforces fiscal discipline while also making vital investments to ensure our economy continues to recover."
Krishnamoorthi, his campaign said, "will gladly explain to Congressman Joe Walsh and the voters of the 8th District, why President Obama's budget is in the best interests of the United States."
In a followup email, Walsh saluted Krishnamoorthi for responding, but reiterated his disagreement. Then, he followed with several email blasts calling out Duckworth for failing to publicly respond.
Duckworth, who formerly worked in the Obama administration as an assistant secretary in the Department of Veterans Affairs, still has yet to issue a public statement on the issue, but her campaign responded by email to a request from the Daily Herald for comment.
"Tammy will stand up to extremists like Joe Walsh who think we should balance our budget on the backs of our most vulnerable," the campaign said. "Joe Walsh always disagrees with everything the president proposes."
Duckworth, the statement continued, "will work with President Obama to pass a budget that protects Medicare and Social Security, and repeals the Bush-era tax cuts for the super wealthy."
The campaign did not immediately answer, however, requests to clarify whether she backs Obama's budget in full or in part.
The boundaries of the new 8th District, drawn to include no incumbent, encompass some of the most independent voting portions of the Northwest suburbs. They take in portions of Kane, DuPage and Cook counties, including Addison, Hanover and Elk Grove townships as well as parts of Wheeling Township.